Obama picks Cross Orchards for campaign stop

A bit of modern history will mix with century-old western Colorado history on Monday when Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama appears at Cross Orchards Living History Farm.

Free tickets for the Obama event are available at noon today at the campaign headquarters, 844 Grand Ave.

Tickets are free, but only two tickets will be issued per person.

Obama will appear with Gov. Bill Ritter at the site, which sits in the shadow of Grand Mesa, at 3073 F Road.

Obama’s campaign staff was looking for places other than the usual school or hotel backdrop for the campaign appearance and settled on Cross Orchards, said Kay Fiegel of the Museum of Western Colorado, which operates the farm and is renting it to the campaign.

“They looked around and liked what they saw,” Fiegel said.

The gates to the farm will open at 9 a.m., and the event will begin at 11 a.m.

George Woolsey, an Obama campaign volunteer from Grand Junction, had been curator of Cross Orchards for the museum, but he said the campaign settled on the old farm without his help.

“I wish they had” asked, Woolsey said. “But no.”

Still, he said, “What a terrific opportunity for the people of Grand Junction, though. It’s not often that western Colorado gets to experience firsthand the presidential race.”

As many as 1,500 people are expected Monday, Fiegel said.

Cross Orchards has a large parking lot and the campaign will provide parking assistance, Fiegel said.

“It may be a little slow getting people out of here” once the event is over, though, she said.

Grand Valley Transit has a bus stop for its No. 2 route at the farm, and people potentially could park at Mesa Mall and take the roughly half-hour ride to the Cross Orchards stop, said Kathy Young of the Mesa County Regional Transportation Planning Office.

Riders also could board the bus at closer locations along F Road, Young said.

Obama fever even struck Republicans.

Mesa County Republican Party Chairman Gary Roahrig said he was impressed that one of the candidates took the time to visit Grand Junction.

“I don’t think the odds on that would even make the charts in Vegas,” Roahrig said. “We’re excited about the fact that he’s coming here. I’m not sure how much of the Western values and belief system he’ll be able to garner.”

After leaving Grand Junction, Obama will continue his Colorado visit with a rally Monday at the Colorado State Fairgrounds in Pueblo.


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